To avoid irritation, experts recommend people with rosacea avoid facials with harsh ingredients like salicylic acid or retinoids. Instead, opt for gentler options like hyaluronic acid or green tea.

If you have rosacea, you may be wondering whether a facial will help or hinder the redness, irritation, and inflammation associated with the condition.

Before you book your next facial, we consulted board certified dermatologist and internal medicine specialist Divya Sachdev, MD of Coast Dermatology, for some expert advice.

Though some specialists recommend that those with rosacea skip facials altogether, Sachdev explains that that’s not totally necessary.

Instead, she recommends that those with rosacea opt for facials with gentle, soothing ingredients, such as:

  • Green tea: Sachdev explains that it contains soothing, anti-inflammatory properties that reduce redness and irritation.
  • Aloe vera: This has a cooling and hydrating effect that can calm rosacea flare-ups.
  • Hyaluronic acid: This helps skin retain moisture and reduces the dryness and irritation that often plagues rosacea-prone skin.
  • Azelaic acid: This can reduce inflammation and redness.
    • Since some people with rosacea may be sensitive to azelaic acid, Sachdev recommends proceeding with caution with this one. You may want to use it at a low concentration and do a patch test first to prevent a potentially negative reaction.

Ingredients to avoid when you have rosacea

She also recommends avoiding harsher ingredients like the following, especially in higher concentrations:

  • Retinoids: These contain anti-wrinkle properties but “can be overly harsh and irritate sensitive skin.”
  • Salicylic acid: This exfoliates and softens but may also dry out or irritate rosacea-prone skin.
  • Vitamin C: This has brightening and tightening properties, but may cause increased skin irritation.

If you’re still interested in trying one of the above ingredients and you have rosacea, talk with your dermatologist about your options. At lower concentrations and with proper prep, they may still be an option for rosacea-prone skin.

In general, a very strong chemical peel is not an ideal option for someone with rosacea. Steam facials should also be skipped, since they may worsen rosacea symptoms.

For those with rosacea, it may be a good idea to choose a medical spa over a traditional spa. These facilities are more likely to be overseen by medical professionals who understand the needs of your skin condition.

To find the best quality services in your area, consult your dermatologist or primary healthcare professional for a recommendation or referral.

Below are a few other proven ways to soothe, treat, and prevent future rosacea flare-ups:

  • Laser treatment is currently one of the most effective ways to treat rosacea. Sachdev explains that vascular lasers and intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy effectively diminish redness and visible blood vessels.
  • Topical treatments like niacinamide and lipid-enriched creams “strengthen the skin’s barrier and improve overall skin health,” she says.
  • There are many other over-the-counter treatments available for rosacea: check out this article to learn more.

Though there’s not yet a known cure for rosacea, there are many ways to help reduce flare-ups and improve your overall quality of life while living with it.

Sachdev especially recommends understanding and managing your triggers. For example, spicy or acidic foods like cinnamon and citrus may cause flare-ups in some individuals. While every case is unique, working with a dermatologist and tracking your symptoms can do a lot to help soothe the condition.

Other ways to soothe and improve rosacea symptoms include:

  • Reducing stress and anxiety: These can contribute to flare-ups but can be helped with habits like mindfulness, exercise, or meditation.
  • Eating anti-inflammatory foods: Eating things like green leafy veggies, fatty fish, fruit, nuts, and olive oil can help reduce flare-ups. Spices like ginger, turmeric, and clove can also reduce inflammation.
  • Wearing SPF regularly: This “is a nonnegotiable part of managing rosacea,” Sachdev explains, “regardless of the season or weather.” Check out our favorite sunscreens for rosacea in this article.

It’s wise to exercise caution when getting a facial with rosacea. Choosing one with gentle ingredients (i.e., green tea or aloe vera) can help soothe redness and inflammation associated with the condition.

When in doubt, visit a dermatologist for individualized support.

“As a dermatologist, my goal is to empower my patients with the knowledge and tools they need to manage their rosacea effectively,” Sachdev says. “Remember, every individual’s skin is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another.”